Baxter of California

Jean-Pierre Mastey is probably the best-groomed Angeleno most people will ever meet – and with good reason. His grandfather had a hair salon in Morocco.  Six of his grandfather’s ten children followed him in to the hair biz.  And JP dabbled in graphic design, mens fashion and trading before finally turning to his roots, care of a gentleman by the name of Baxter Finley.

Mr Finley sounds like one of those charming, salt-and-pepper hair types with kind eyes and a gruff voice.  Originally an advertising executive from New York, Baxter’s skin didn’t take to the change of climate kindly when he made the move east in 1965.  He started his company when he couldn’t find a male-oriented moisturizer to soothe his irritated skin.  His formulas were based on lanolin and mineral oil (super high tech at the time) and the brand became known for its shots of male models in black and white holding bottles of Baxter products.

JP grew up with Baxter products, and even knew Baxter when he was a little boy. (Baxter used to pay him 50 cents to walk his dog.) So when Baxter Finley took Jean-Pierre to lunch and told him he was looking to sell the company, it was more than a natural fit.

JP has kept the same focus on technology and has modernized the formulas to include botanical ingredients, and all Baxter products are still made in the USA.  Amongst the offering is hard water pomade, fragrance-free facewash, and body wash scented with pomegranate and Italian lime.

"We really worked hard to have a nice balance between natural botanicals and scientific ingredients that really perform well," JP has said. "There’s a big misconception that all natural is best. It’s nearly impossible to produce something authentically all natural that performs well."

Many have commented on the "Los Angeles-ness" of Baxter products.  Jean-Pierre believes that his brand has thrived because it’s from a city where “there’s always someone who has more than you."   

 “It’s difficult for me to separate myself from [Los Angeles] because I am a California kid,” Jean-Pierre has said. “I was born and raised here and what I know is Los Angeles.”

And, it seems, Los Angeles men. 

In 2010, JP opened a barber shop with a traditional menu - wet shaves, cuts and styling. (The perfect testing ground for new products.) Rich wood, leather, enormous swivel chairs -  the Baxter Finley barber shop is all old Hollywood and an important manifestation of the brand. It's a quirky homage to JP's city – a place that he says doesn’t have a lot of heritage.

“It may not fit in perfectly with Los Angeles but I don’t think that really matters.” JP has said.  

 

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With help from Los Angeles I’m Yours and MrketPlace

Image via Los Angeles I'm Yours